The Taoiseach has led tributes to the former Fianna Fáil TD and MEP Niall Andrews, who has died at the age of 68.

Bertie Ahern expressed his deep sympathy to Bernadette Andrews and the Andrews family.

In a statement, he said strong support in successive European Elections across the city and county of Dublin was proof of the regard in which Mr Andrews was held.

The Taoiseach said Mr Andrews had not only inherited a long and illustrious tradition of public service, he had also enhanced it through his own contribution over 30 years.

Tánaiste and leader of the Progressive Democrats Michael McDowell said Mr Andrews had served his constituents with distinction for many years.

The former President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, also paid tribute to his former colleague.

Mr Cox, who served with Niall Andrews in Brussels for 15 years, said that Mr Andrews was a consistent and passionate advocate of the rights and development needs of poorer peoples and countries.

He said Mr Andrews had served with distinction on the parliament's Joint Parliamentary Assembly with the African, Pacific and Caribbean countries.

Andrews was MEP for 20 years

Born in Dublin in 1938, Mr Andrews was first elected to the Dáil in the 1977 General Election and represented the Dublin South constituency for ten years.

He was Junior Minister at the Department of the Environment in the Fianna Fáil government of 1982.

Elected to the European Parliament in 1984, he was an MEP for 20 years and was succeeded by party colleague Eoin Ryan in 2004.

A brother of former Foreign Affairs Minister David Andrews, their father Todd was one of the founders of Fianna Fáil.

Niall Andrews is survived by his wife, Bernadette, and three children.

He died after becoming ill earlier in the year.

His son, Chris, is standing for Fianna Fáil in Dublin South East in next year's General Election.